Gareth Gates pops into Footloose

Joanna Sawyer as Rusty and Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose. Photo: Matt Martin
Joanna Sawyer as Rusty and Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose. Photo: Matt Martin
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‘KICK off your Sunday shoes and cut loose...” that is the mantra at the Festival Theatre this week, which can only mean one thing - the smash hit rock ‘n’ roll musical Footloose is back in town.

Based on the 1984 movie, Footloose sizzles with the spirit of youth, rebellion and romance.

The new tour stars one time Pop Idol contestant Gareth Gates and Maureen Nolan of 70s pop favourites, The Nolans.

City boy Ren thinks his life is over when he is forced to move to Bomont, an American rural backwater. But things are far worse than he could have ever imagined, as the town bans dancing.

It isn’t long before Ren can’t resist breaking the rules, and he’s not alone.

Gates, who plays Willard, Ren’s best mate, says, “I have never played a role like this before.

“I’m often the romantic lead or the prince-type role, here I’m the geeky one who gets to play the fool and to play for laughs, which has been brilliant.”

Laughing he adds, “It has also been a challenge to learn how to dance.”

With cutting-edge choreography, Footloose unfolds to a sound track of classic hits including Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and the unforgettable title track.

“I am also a huge fan of 80s music, I love it,” says the singer, who has sold more than 3.5 million records.

“And although the film came out the year I was born, obviously I’d watched it many a time, so was pretty familiar with the story.”

Playing Willard is a very different prospect to the role that last brought the 31-year-old to the Capital, Marius in Les Miserables.

“I just love Edinburgh,” he says. “We were there for about six weeks during Les Mis and I had a great time.

“It’s one of my favourite places to come back to. I always rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel. I love the nightlife, the culture and just the city itself.”

Not that there will be much nightlife this time around for the father of one.

“I’m having my little girl Missy with me on this visit,” he reveals, “so I’ll be showing her around too, as it’s half term.”

Footloose, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £22-£42, 0131-529 6000